Q & A With Blair Phillips Photography

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While growing up, there was no opportunity in Blair Phillips’ household for future advancement; no further education after high school, no parenting, and definitely no dreams of a flourishing career. Between multiple family households and parents, his childhood life was a constant roller-coaster. After living with his paternal grandparents for a significant time period, who both passed away when he was a junior in high school, Blair had to finish educating himself through high school. He worked 40 hours a week at a local grocery store while finishing his senior year in high school. Finances were so bad that even senior pictures were not an option and most of his time off was spent juggling work and school, having no social life as a normal teenager.

Reason for the short story above is to give you an idea of where the motivation and creativity comes from in Blair’s images. Blair’s business began 8 short years ago and since then, Blair Phillips Photography has become a household name that people in his community, and from several states away, have come to know and adore. Each year Blair has photograph between 40-60 weddings and 600+ studio sessions. In a small, economically deprives mill town of 3,100 and before the age of 30, accomplishment is an understatement!

Photographers are hungry for Blair’s creative eye behind the lens. Blair is known for his innovative lighting, posing, and flow of imagery, which has been a topic of conversation sparked between both novice and seasoned photographers. He has a passion to teach other photographers how to express themselves in ways not found in traditional training, which has been described as eclectic elegance. His style and positive energy is devoted to educate and inspire photographers to move towards a modern, fashionable approach, while keeping true to themselves.  Because of his sought-after content and unique teaching style, Blair has had the opportunity to educate photographers all over the United States including 4 consecutive years at WPPI, The WPPI Road Trip, WPPI U, SPA, SYNC Seniors, various state PPA affiliations and most recently, Imaging USA. Blair also hosts a quarterly workshop entitled “Break The Mold” at his Landis, NC studio which has become increasingly popular, selling out with every event.

Blair Phillips has so much to offer fellow photographers. Blair has a sincere desire to see other photographers inspired to grow in business as he has. Blair has a young team who strive towards fresh ideas, and those who hear them will be inspired to break out of their mold. Blair doesn’t want to teach people his way, but rather inspire everyone and have them discover what it means to break out of the mold to a more fashionable tomorrow.

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Blair and Suzanne Phillips

Tamrac: How did you get into photography?
Blair: Blind luck.  I have always been a very visual type individual, and it all began when I started carrying a point and shoot camera with me everywhere.  I would see neat and intriguing things that I felt were worthy of capture.  I began taking media cards to a local drug store lab for processing where a lab technician gave me encouragement to pursue photography as more than a mere hobby.  I took her advice and the rest was history.

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Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Blair: A strobe light.  I have learned strobe lighting inside and out, and it allows me to manipulate any environment to fit my needs.

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Tamrac: You shoot seniors, families, newborns and weddings.  What do you like most about each one and do you have a favorite between them? Or is it too hard to choose?
Blair: I love creating genuine conversations and building relationships.  Seniors are one of the most enjoyable outlets for me due to the complete creative freedom you can have with them.  Newborns are also really high on my list.  I am very sensitive and compassionate, so working with the delicate nature of babies fits me very well.  Since the birth of my daughter, I have cut the weddings back to only 10 per year.  My family has to come first and foremost.

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Tamrac
: Things have come a long way since I was a senior in high school where we just got our yearbook photo taken.  Where do you come up with all the crazy, unusual settings for your senior shoots?  Do the seniors give you input for what they want or do you create the shoot on your own?  What do they then do with their images?
Blair: I use to travel to random locations for seniors.  The constant driving all over the place got really old, really quick.  I decided to build my very own senior oasis equipped with over 30 different sets that are always available.  This way I am in complete control and have enough to fit any style.  My seniors give me input on their outfit choices and that is pretty much it.  We have marketed and branded our studio in a way that client’s give us complete freedom to do whatever we see fit.  The majority of our senior clients still purchase wall portraits, an album, gift prints, and wallets.

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Blair’s “Senior Oasis”

Tamrac: You do a lot of workshops on a variety of different topics.  What is your favorite thing to teach that you think every starting photographer needs to learn?
Blair: Lighting, lighting, lighting.  Learning lighting gives you so much control of every press of your shutter.  Lighting is one of the concrete fundamentals that most photographers don’t tackle right away.  It can be intimidating, but I have a clever way of breaking it down so people will understand it in ten minutes.  Lighting is the root of all photographs.

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Tamrac: What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Blair:  There has never been a tougher question for me.  I do well over 500 studio session, as well as a lot of volume photography.  It would literally be impossible for me to pick.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Blair: With all of my traveling, I would be lost without my Tamrac gear bags.  Some of my most important pieces are the Super Rolling Studio Bags (Model 662) and the Ultra Pro 13 (Model 5613).  For airplane travel I sometimes rely on the hefty Expedition 8x (Model 5588).  For weddings I love my Cyberpack Roller (Model 5267). With Tamrac, I feel certain that I will wear out long before any of my Tamrac bags.

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Blair’s Ultra Pro 13 with his gear

Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Blair: The sheer quality and design.  Tamrac knows exactly what we need as a photographer and have a rock solid solution for all of my carry needs.

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Blair in his studio shooting a video on his Tamrac bags

Click here to see Blair’s video (from photo above) on his Tamrac Bags.

For more information on Blair and Suzanne and their work, please visit their links: Website: www.blairphillipsphotography.com
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/blairphillipsphotography
Facebook: www.facebook.com/blairphillipsworkshops
Instagram: @blair_phillips
Twitter: @bpphotography
Email: blair@blairphillipsphotography.com

 

 

 

 

Q & A with Mark Dimalanta

_igp2965 (2)“I spent most of my life learning the art of healing. The best thing I ever learned was to heal the soul and go back to my roots. These days, I spend my days surfing and shooting those who surf…”

Mark Dimalanta is a native Californian who loves photography but lives to surf. While earning his medical degree from the University of the East in 2001, the digital photography revolution prompted the young doctor to return to his roots as a photojournalist of more than 20 years.

The Doc who put down his stethoscope to pick up his camera and chase surfers exploring the world has returned home to Southeast Asia to document the booming board riding culture.

Mark has shot with practically everything that can record an image, but always maintains a preference for his Pentax.  Utilizing the virtues that set Pentax apart from the rest like weather-sealed durability, intuitive ergonomics, and the compact nature of the entire system, Mark uses his tools to capture the imagery of the extreme sports lifestyle. While traveling, he entrusts his gear to the efficient protection that only Tamrac carrying systems provide.

Presently he is a contributing photographer and features writer for Lonely Planet Magazine, Digital Photographer, Mabuhay Magazine and the Philippine Star Lifestyle.  He is also the Managing Director of Alon Philippines, a Travel & Lifestyle Magazine centered around Australasia.

mark dimalanta photo-0390lrTamrac: You used to be a doctor, and now you’re a photographer.  How did that happen?
MarkI sustained an injury which challenged my mobility and ability to stand for long periods of time.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the strains of Clinical Medicine until my complete recovery.  During my rehab, I kept busy by rekindling my passion for photography. Although I was unable to practice the sports, I relived them by shooting them.  When I fully recovered, I hit a fork in the road and picked up the camera and left the stethoscope behind me. The rest is history. :)

bernice parsons for pentax imaginglrTamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
MarkFor the flexibility, I always have the Pentax MX-1.  It’s a pocket point and shoot that has a retro feel harking back to the old “Peter Parker” Chrome and black leather analog SLRs.  It allows me to shoot a wide variety of subjects, without the bulk of an SLR.

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Tamrac: You shoot for Lonely Planet travel guides.  What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled working on these guides?
Mark:  Travel and tourism is booming in Southeast Asia.  It was an honor to share my Travel anecdotes and images for the Lonely Planet Brand. My region of specialty is the Philippine Islands.  I handled the beach destinations which offered paradise packed with varied ranges of surf from the beginner to professional quality waves.

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Kapuluan Vista, Maira Ira Coast of Pagudpud

My favorite Destination assignment is the region of Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, Luzon Island. Lonely Planet named the region as one of the best beaches on Earth.

Tamrac: You’re an avid surfer, as well as a surf photographer.  When you’re photographing big waves, is it hard for you to sit back and not paddle out?  And when you surf, do you think about what it would look like as a photograph?
Mark: I love both disciplines, but so early in my career I blew perfect photo ops by surfing instead of shooting.  I’ve come to realize that I actually enjoy the reward of shooting instead of the act of surfing.  Shooting allows me to preserve the moment permanently with an image that can be shared the world over.          usopen 2008Tamrac: What advice would you give to someone thinking about changing careers and becoming a photographer?
Mark: Photography is a bit challenging these days because the access to professional level gear has increased exponentially, hence there is now an influx of very talented amateurs willing to work for free.  For those looking to strike it rich, I suggest not quitting their day job.  However if they are uniquely dynamic and always keeping it new, there will always be an audience. The key to modern photography as a profession is to always be innovative.   _agn7159lrTamrac: What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Mark:  My favorite image was from a personal family collection of my daughter learning to swim.  It was a very memorable moment because of the joy it brought her and the significance of her independence.  Its an angle that most aren’t able to capture, yet we know from experience.  The image itself lets the viewer feel the elation of every swimmer.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Mark:  I love the Expedition 9x.  Its the one bag that is large enough to carry a 600mm, all your other gear, and still make it past TSA airline restrictions.  The bag tends to get heavy, but upon inspection, TSA always allows the additional weight because the bag carries all in such an efficient manner.
The MicroSyncs are also invaluable for off camera strobe work.  Nice, compact and simple to use.
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Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Mark:  They are Timeless essentials built to last and most importantly, protect.

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For more information on Mark and his work, please visit his links:
Website: www.alonphilippines.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/drmarkdimo
Blog: www.surfdoc.blogspot.com/

Q & A with Rena Durham

_L5K8152RENA DURHAM (SERIES LEAD) Confident, determined, authentic, warm-hearted with great comedic timing. A Wife and Mother; she married her Prince Charming and absolutely adores her son. She believes that you can still be a Christian and read Harry Potter (she secretly dreams what it would be like to be Gryffindor Quidditch Captain). Down to earth, Most days she can be found in a t-shirt, jeans and her sneakers with a Non-Fat Chai Tea Latte (luckily she owns stock in Starbucks, as often as she is there). She loves working as a photographer, specifically with kids and teens (and has built a solid reputation in the entertainment industry as one of the most prolific teen celebrity photographers.) She loves working with kids of all ages and is loaded with many talents, which span beyond the world of photography. A member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Rena has lent her voice to a multitude of video games, commercials and more, played supporting roles in films and once had a recording contract as the lead singer in an all girl-singing group. She believes that within every child there is pure beauty and enormous potential and that the best sound in the world is a child’s laugh.renadurhamTamrac:  You are well known for shooting teen celebrities.  How did you get involved in this niche genre?
Rena: I started out in 1999, photographing concerts and red carpet events. I found that I really enjoyed working with the teen talent and it led to me working for various teen entertainment magazines (Tiger Beat, Bop. Popstar, etc.) doing behind the scenes photography on Disney and Nickelodeon TV shows like ‘Suite Life of Zack and Cody’, ‘That’s So Raven’, etc.

In 2002, I decided that I no longer wanted to cover events and started doing more exclusive one on one shoots with celebrity talent. The relationships that I had built with publicists, agents and talent  made the transition a fairly easy one. Since then, I have photographed some of the top names in the industry including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron. It’s a ton of fun and has to be one of the best jobs in the world.

050610034Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Rena: Well, there are quite a few pieces of equipment that I don’t leave the house without. My Canon 1Ds Mark II and my favorite go to lenses (the 70-200mm 2.8 ISL and the 24-70 2.8).

La Petite Fashion Shoot - Summer 2011TamracDo you have any secrets for getting babies to cooperate for your photo shoots?
RenaBabies are extremely unpredictable. You can’t negotiate with babies and you can’t expect them to follow direction (as you would an older child or adult). You just hope that they are in a great mood, happy and love to have their photo taken. Everyone has a bad day and babies are no different. You just have to be patient, get down on their level and be ready to PLAY and WORK hard for that shot! A little secret that gets their attention (and usually makes them laugh) 95% of the time is the ‘fake sneeze’. Ah…Ah…Ahhhh…CHOO! (as silly as possible).
_MG_0808TamracHow do you get your ideas for your creative kids’ photo shoots?  Do you talk to the kids to get a feel for what would work with their personalities? Or do you have the shoot in mind beforehand?
Rena For my concept shoots, I always have the idea in mind beforehand. I can get inspired by just about anything…music, books, poetry, art, a location, piece of clothing, a particular model… I love looking at fashion magazines for inspiration. I will get the concept for the photo shoot first, and then base everything else off of that, from the models that I cast to the clothing for the shoot, location, props, etc.

_L5K4234TamracYou do a lot of lectures and workshops.  What topics do you like to cover in these lectures?
RenaI have done workshops on creating concept driven editorial photo shoots with kids to workshops on the ins and outs of photographing celebrities to classes on lighting and running a photo business. 

Elemental Photo ShootPhotography by Rena DurhamTamracWhat was your favorite image you took in the last year?
RenaWow, that is a tough one. I would say my favorite shoot last year was my ‘Summer Crush’ shoot. I also filmed a short film for it (I LOVE shooting video). You can view the film here: http://vimeo.com/67691709

_L5K0355TamracWhat Tamrac gear do you use?
RenaI love and use the rolling cases the most. I have the Big Wheels Rolling Strongbox, which I take everywhere and have used for many years, and for my lighting gear, I have a couple different rolling studios (a medium and large).
Fore1Tamrac:  What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
RenaTamrac bags are very durable and extremely well made. I love that I can fit all my gear in them and feel confident that it’s well protected. They are really easy to manage and transport for both local sessions and when traveling nationwide.

Olivia Holt Portrait Session

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Rena’s Tamrac Rolling StrongBox

 

For more information on Rena and her work, please visit her links: www.renadurham.com
www.renadurhamblog.com
FB:  www.facebook.com/rendphoto
Twitter: www.twitter.com/renadurham
Instagram: www.instagram.com/renadurham

Q & A with Robert Evans

504_palacios-3Robert Evans is one of the most highly acclaimed photographers in the world. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer are just some of the couples that have sought out his services to photograph their private events. Robert has documented over a thousand weddings worldwide and created iconic imagery that has graced the covers of countless national and international publications.

Selected by Sony as the wedding Artisan of Imagery, one of only eight photographers chosen worldwide, Robert is recognized as one of the most easy-going and pleasant professionals to work with. It is a reputation that at times, exceeds his photography. His personal humility, positivity and dedication to his craft set him apart as a once-in-a-generation photographer. Robert has also had the honor of being selected to give a TED Talk which can be found at TED.com

“My interest in photography started around age fourteen. At nineteen, I knew it was the career I wanted to pursue. By twenty-six it had become my passion and I realized it was my calling – what I was placed on this earth to do.”

Robert’s beliefs aren’t so much of “having a style” as they are “capturing a moment”. It is this philosophy that influences his work. His patient, disciplined approach results in photos of moments that touch people’s hearts.

“If I can do that…if I can really touch someone through my photographs, then I’ve done my job.”

Robert’s photography has earned him numerous awards, recognition and titles.  Robert’s work has been showcased on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, MTV, CNN and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, amongst others. His photos have graced the covers and been featured in the content of publications including: USA Today, People magazine, Playboy magazine, Us Weekly magazine, HELLO! magazine, OK! magazine, Life&Style Weekly, In Touch magazine, martha stewart Living magazine and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine.

robert evans headshotTamrac: How did you get into photography?
Robert:  My interest in photography started at an early age. My father was into photography and I had an old camera bag filled with his old Minolta 35mm film cameras that were left to me after he prematurely passed away when I was a young boy.

I took a photography class in ninth grade where we learned the basics of photography. We made pinhole cameras and started to learn how to print in the darkroom. I loved photography class so much, I made sure I signed up for photography once I got up to the high school.

I worked in a small photography lab in Hollywood, next I took a job at a photography studio, in 1988. I photographed my first wedding in January 1989 from there I worked for two other photography studios, before starting Robert Evans Studios in January 1994  I haven’t looked back since.

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Tamrac:  How did you get involved with Sony?
Robert:  My interest with Sony started a little over a year ago in August of 2012. I was hearing great things about Sony cameras and I wondered if there was something better out there than what I was currently shooting. Also, I heard that Zeiss made a lot of the lenses for Sony cameras.  Since I learned on a Hasselblad early in my professional career and Zeiss made all the glass for Hasselblad, it was a little nostalgic for me.

I reached out to Sony and asked if I could test out some of their cameras and lenses and a week later I received an a77 body and a few lenses. The first images I shot with the camera really caught my attention. The dynamic range in the sensor was amazing, unlike anything I had seen in any other digital camera. It was like shooting film – the sharpness of the lenses, the brilliant color, I was sold.

I sent Sony images and then they asked if I would like to speak for them at PhotoPlus in New York. I was super excited.  I never picked up my old cameras again and in September of 2013 I was invited to become the seventh Sony Artisan of Imagery, an honor I accepted proudly.
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Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Robert:  Honestly it’s my camera bag… No matter which Sony camera body or lenses I take with me, they always need to be safe and protected.  My Tamrac rolling case is probably my favorite as it saves my back and easily fits over my head in the airplane as I travel a great deal between my speaking and photography jobs.

bride & groom kiss under umbrella beach-1Tamrac:  Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled for a destination wedding?
Robert:  I have been to many great locations in my twenty-five years, but my best memory was Castle Ashby in North Hampton, England. I photographed a wedding in this amazing castle and we all got to stay there for three nights. The Chapel they married in was on the grounds as well as an old graveyard just behind the Chapel. The driveway to the castle was so long you could not see the castle from the road, more than a mile long. It was beautiful and spooky all at the same time. The locations were endless.

img_9743Tamrac:  What is it like shooting such big stars’ special day?  Is it any different than shooting a “normal” wedding?
Robert:  Celebrities are just normal people who happen to be famous. They want the same things as everyone else: great images to remember their special day. The only difference is that I may not have the same freedoms to shoot in locations I might like to in order to prevent the paparazzi from stealing photographs of the couple. You also stay up a little later after the wedding is over, editing and getting images to release to the world. It is a very long day.

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Tamrac:  What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Robert:  It would have to be the image I shot (below) in an ice castle in Minnesota. It was a styled shoot for Minnesota Bride magazine with a winter wedding theme, giving brides ideas for winter weddings.

guide 3Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Robert:  I have a Tamrac Roller bag (Big Wheels SpeedRoller 2x) that I take to my weddings and especially when I travel and a Tamrac shoulder bag when I am taking limited gear or maybe to a location where wheels won’t work as well. It is a large shoulder bag that can hold everything I need on the wedding day, but whenever possible I like the wheels, in order to work smarter not harder.

4q7h0072Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Robert:  I know my equipment is safe and well-protected in my Tamrac bags. They are made very well and last forever. My shoulder bag I have had for at least 15 years. It’s dirty and grungy (and full of memories), but it still does the job well.

For more information on Robert and his work, please visit his website:  www.robertevans.com/